“Big Five of the Jungle” Breathtaking Photographs of Majestic African Animals

The term “Big Five”, coined in the late 1800s during Africa’s colonial period, originally referred to the difficulty in hunting the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and African buffalo. These big five mammals of Africa are known to be dangerous and it was considered a feat by trophy hunters to bring them home. Fast forward to the current times, and many of these animals are listed as threatened or endangered in the IUCN Red List.

However, the modern usage has changed a  bit; now referring to seeing the Big Five during wildlife safaris on the African continent, not shooting them. The Big Five are what people think of when they think of Africa and wildlife. These animals are still threatened by hunting trends, but a shift toward tourism has made seeing the Big Five of Africa an “awe-inspiring” experience for all.

Wildlife photography has made it possible for everyone to enjoy the natural beauty of this continent. Here are a few of such breathtaking photographs of the Big Five of the jungles of Africa in this photographic journal.

A cute leopard cub hiding away inside a tree stump, scared from a running herd of elephants.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Alistair Swartz

A gorgeous female leopard standing on hind legs to get a better view of its surroundings.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Andrew Tudor Morgan

Two rhinoceros playing in the mud at sundown in Namibia. The species has long been threatened by poachers who kill the animal for its horn.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Anna-Mart Kruger

A lion and lioness walking through a savanna, an ecosystem that serves as grazing and hunting grounds for all animals.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Anne McKinnell

An elephant mother helping a young calf to stand up. Elephants are the largest existing land animals, and there are three species currently recognized: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Charl Stols

A Lone Rhino: Standing in a vast barren landscape in Tanzania, this white rhinoceros sort of depicts the plight of its species.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Chris Minihane

Resting After a Heavy Lunch: A lioness laying its head on a freshly killed giraffe. Rarely do the lions hunt alone, as it is easy to kill prey with a pack.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Julian Regamey

Need a Twig: An elephant reaching over to pluck a twig from a tall tree. But not for food as there are many green trees for forage around, could be just for fun.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Graeme Green

The Death Stare: A leopard staring right at the camera while sitting on a high boulder like a proud ruler.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Anne McKinnell

A white rhinoceros with its young one traipsing through a Tanzanian landscape, with a stunning backdrop.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Chris Minihane

Grimace: The grimacing expression of this African lion due to the sand storm in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is far precious than cute little puppies.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Daniel Koen

Brotherly Embrace of Two Lions: While humans are losing their humanity, animals are showing more and more compassion than the “so-called” superior race of humans.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Graeme Green

Basking in the Sun: A leopard sitting atop mud mounds and gracefully posing for the camera.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Marsel van Oosten

The African Buffaloes were one of the big trophies every hunter wanted to showcase. After a lot of conservation efforts, this member of the Big Five was reintroduced in Kruger Park.

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Image: Kruger National Park

This portrait of three African buffaloes is absolutely amazing. The color combination, the reflection of the animals in the water, and the poses – all are just exquisite.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Ifham Raji

A rhinoceros grazing alongside its calf. The animal has been threatened by poachers who kill it for its horn to be sold on the black market.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Greg du Toit

An elephant family and alone rhinoceros photographed at sundown in South Africa.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Matt Stephens

Affection: Two elephants in an affectionate embrace with their trunks entwined reflects the compassion among animals.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Ifham Raji

A young elephant playing with dirt was photographed by Piper Mackay in the African wilderness. The animal grabbed a trunkful of sand and threw it on itself.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Piper Mackay

Treading Cautiously: A leopard is descending from a tree with extreme skill and caution while keeping its gaze fixed on the solid ground below.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Will Burrard-Lucas

Doesn’t this photograph of two young lion cubs remind you of Simba and Nala from The Lion King?

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Thorsten Hanewald

Strength in Numbers: Four lionesses trying to take down an African buffalo before lunchtime. Predators often hunt in packs to make the kill easy and quick.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Thomas Landgraf

An elephant along with its calf was pictured in a savanna of the African wilderness.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Will Burrard-Lucas

A Giant Feast: Two lionesses feast upon an elephant while three remain watchful of any intruders, such as hyenas who lurk in shadows, waiting for the big predators to leave so they can finish off any leftovers.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Tom Archer

An elephant standing on its hind legs to grab some forage from a tall tree exhibits the struggles of animals to find food in the African ecosystem.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Simon Smith

An African buffalo looking right at the camera as the photographer captures a perfect shot of the weary animal.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Will Burrard-Lucas

A big herd of elephants grazing in a pristine landscape. The big mammals are though peaceful but when instigated they could destroy anything in their path.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Tom Archer

A lone rhinoceros walking amid a jungle. Conservationists have been trying to preserve the endangered species from poachers, habitat loss, fragmentation, and changing climate.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Will Burrard-Lucas

A very hungry lion, finishing off the remainder of a buffalo kill in an African savanna.

Big Five of the Jungle: A Photographic Journal of These Majestic African Animals

Image: Will Burrard-Lucas

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